Breedlove's Briefing: Diversity Doesn't Stick Without Inclusion

October 28 - Stephanie Breedlove

Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.

I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!

Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.

This Week’s Must-Read:

Diversity Doesn’t Stick Without Inclusion

Who it’s for:

Everyone in every company.

Why it’s important:

Business leaders have long recognized that a diverse workforce of women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals confers a competitive edge. Yet a stark gap persists between recognizing the leadership behaviors that unlock this capability and actually practicing them. Most U.S. companies have been stuck in this gap without meaningful progress.

Part of the problem is that “diversity” and “inclusion” are so often lumped together that they’re assumed to be the same thing. But that’s just not the case. In the context of the workplace, diversity equals representation. Without inclusion, however, the crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, foster innovation, and lead to business growth won’t happen. Diversity is the equivalent of being invited to the party, while inclusion is being asked to dance.

We now have research that shows that 41% of senior-level African-Americans, 20% of senior-level Asians, and 18% of senior-level Hispanics feel obligated to sponsor employees of the same gender or ethnicity (for Caucasians the number is 7%), yet they hesitate to take action. Why? They feel hobbled by the perception of giving special treatment, plus they are concerned their protégés might not “make the grade.”

Another difficulty in solving the issue is data. It’s easy to measure diversity, as it’s a simple matter of headcount. But quantifying feeling of inclusion can be dicey. Research by the Center for Talent Innovation has uncovered four levers to help organizations drive inclusion.

  1. Inclusive Leaders. This kind of leadership is a conglomeration of six behaviors: ensuring team members speak up and are heard; making it safe to propose new ideas; empowering team members to make decisions; soliciting advice and implementing feedback; giving actionable feedback; and sharing credit for success. High expectations come with this list. But, of employees who report that their leader has at least three of these traits, 87% feel included and free to express their views (vs. 46% with leaders that have none of these traits).
  2. Authenticity. According to the research, 37% of African-Americans and Hispanics and 45% of Asians say they need to compromise authenticity to conform to company standards. For women, acting like a man provides an advantage in fields such as science, engineering, and technology. What a waste of an employee’s energy, let alone their employer’s diversity dollars.
  3. Networking and Visibility. For women and people of color, the key to rising above a playing field that remains stubbornly uneven is sponsorship. A sponsor is a senior-level leader who elevates their protégé’s visibility with the corridors of power and advocates for key assignments and promotions.
  4. Clear Career Paths. For women, LGBTQ individuals, and people of color, the map to career success is murky. Research shows that 45% of women off-ramp to take care of children, with 24% leaving to care for aging relatives. 29% say their career isn’t satisfying, and 23% feel stalled in their careers.

Top Take-Away: It is critical to recognize the value in the metric-based data that research is producing. Data that should spur smart progress for closing the gap between diversity and inclusion. Focusing on these four levers can elicit real change. Here’s what change looks like: Employees with inclusive managers are 1.3 times more likely to feel their innovative potential is unlocked. Employees who bring their whole selves to work are 42% less likely to say they intend to leave their job. Those with sponsors are 62% more likely to have asked for or received a promotion. And 69% of women who off-ramped would have stayed at their companies if they’d had flexible work options. Be a part of smart progress – a significant ROI awaits.

More on Diversity and Inclusion:

What is Diversity and Inclusion?

Is This the Answer to Diversity and Inclusion?

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